US Probe IDs 53 Burial Sites at Boarding Schools With Remains of Native American Kids

© AP Photo / Susan Montoya BryanA makeshift memorial for the dozens of Indigenous children who died more than a century ago while attending a boarding school that was once located nearby is displayed under a tree at a public park in Albuquerque, N.M., on July 1, 2021.
A makeshift memorial for the dozens of Indigenous children who died more than a century ago while attending a boarding school that was once located nearby is displayed under a tree at a public park in Albuquerque, N.M., on  July 1, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.05.2022
Last year was marked by a heavy scandal that shook neighboring Canada after the burials of hundreds of indigenous children were uncovered on the grounds of Catholic boarding schools.
An examination by the US Interior Department discovered evidence of burial sites at 53 boarding schools for Native American children, 19 of which are responsible for the death of more than 500 children, the agency said on Wednesday.
According to the Volume 1 of the official report, the inquiry, which began in June 2021 to look at the history of government-run boarding schools, is the most comprehensive official record of how many indigenous children died while attending the schools.
The department found that between 1819 and 1969, the US government operated or assisted 408 Native American boarding schools in 37 states. By the 1970s, the majority of the schools had closed. Approximately 53 different schools within the school system had marked or unmarked burial places, per the findings.
The department noted it anticipates the number of discovered burial sites to grow as the inquiry proceeds.

“The consequences of federal Indian boarding school policies—including the intergenerational trauma caused by the family separation and cultural eradication inflicted upon generations of children as young as 4 years old—are heartbreaking and undeniable,” Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland said. “We continue to see the evidence of this attempt to forcibly assimilate Indigenous people in the disparities that communities face. It is my priority to not only give voice to the survivors and descendants of federal Indian boarding school policies, but also to address the lasting legacies of these policies so Indigenous peoples can continue to grow and heal.”

As of now, the study has discovered that at least a few hundred children died while attending the schools, but the report stated that "the approximate number of Native American children who died at Federal Indian boarding schools to be in the thousands or tens of thousands."
After the discovery of unmarked graves of indigenous children in a former church-run boarding school in Canada last May, Haaland, herself a Native American, launched the federal investigation.
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"When my paternal grandparents were 8 years old, they were stolen from their parents, culture and community and forced to live in boarding schools until the age of 13," Haaland said at the news conference. “Many children like them never made it back to their home."

In addition to the burial sites, the Interior Department created a detailed list of all the boarding schools that serviced Native American children for the first time.
The study discovered that part of the federal boarding school system's curriculum included manual work. "Rules were often enforced through punishment, including corporal punishment such as solitary confinement; flogging; withholding food; whipping; slapping; and cuffing," it stated.
According to the research, older Native American children were frequently used to discipline younger ones.
According to some estimates, more than 100,000 Native American children attended boarding schools in the United States that were aimed to assimilate students. Students were frequently ejected from their homes and forbidden to speak their own languages or practice their rituals. Many people may have died as a result of accidents, disease, or other reasons, reportedly including physical and emotional abuse.
According to a Wall Street Journal report upon the study's release, tribal historians and experts have attempted to track the number of Native American students who died and where they are buried in recent years.
The Interior Department discovered that over 500 deaths of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children had been attributed to just about 19 "federal Indian boarding schools."
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To prevent grave stealing and vandalism, the department said it would not make the particular locations of burial sites public.
As part of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative and in response to recommendations from the report, Haaland announced the launch of “The Road to Healing.”
This yearlong tour is said to include travel across the country to allow American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian survivors of the federal Indian boarding school system the opportunity "to share their stories, help connect communities with trauma-informed support, and facilitate collection of a permanent oral history," per the department.
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